Approved therapy Taltz effectively eases symptoms: Meta-analysis

40% improvement on assessment scale shown with therapy after 16 weeks

Marisa Wexler MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler MS |

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A chart showing improvements in a clinical trial is shown, with a stethoscope and medicine surrounding it.

The approved therapy Taltz (ixekizumab) can effectively ease symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and related forms of arthritis that affect the spine, a new analysis shows.

The study, “The Efficacy and Safety of Subcutaneous Ixekizumab for the Treatment of Axial Spondylarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” was published in Cureus.

Axial spondylarthritis, or axSpA, refers broadly to forms of arthritis that cause inflammation and swelling in the lower spine. Ankylosing spondylitis is a specific type of axSpA where damage to the lower spine tissue is visible on imaging tests.

Taltz is approved in the U.S. to treat ankylosing spondylitis and other forms of axSpA where there’s evidence of ongoing inflammation. It works by blocking the activity of the pro-inflammatory signaling molecule interleukin-17A (IL-17A). Taltz is sold by Eli Lilly.

Scientists in Saudi Arabia assessed the effectiveness of Taltz in treating axSpA through a meta-analysis, a type of study where data is pooled from multiple studies and analyzed collectively. This offers more statistical power to detect meaningful effects.

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The analysis included data from four clinical trials that tested Taltz, given every other week or once a month, against a placebo. The studies collectively enrolled 1,016 patients and in all four studies patients’ average age was in the 30s or 40s. Nearly three-quarters of the patients (71.6%) were male.

All four studies reported the number of participants who saw 40% improvement on the Assessment of Spondylarthritis International Society scale (ASAS40) as a measure of the treatment’s effectiveness.

Patients on Taltz were about 2.4 times more likely to achieve ASAS40 compared to those on a placebo after 16 weeks (about four months), results showed. The number of patients who achieved ASAS40 tended to be higher among those given Taltz every other week.

Average scores on other measures of disease severity, including the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) and the Spondyloarthritis Research Consortium of Canada score (SPRACC), also indicated significantly less severe symptoms among those on Taltz than a placebo after 16 weeks. The researchers noted some variation in the magnitude of the effect from study to study, but Taltz outperformed a placebo on these measures in all the studies.

The most common side effects related to Taltz included the common cold, upper respiratory tract infections, and injection site reactions. Rates of treatment side effects didn’t substantially differ between those given Taltz every two weeks or every month, and rates of serious safety issues didn’t differ significantly between patients on Taltz or a placebo. No mortality events were reported.

The researchers concluded Taltz “significantly improved the ASAS40, ASDAS, and SPRACC scores and improved the signs and symptoms of axSpA,” suggesting it “shows promise as an efficacious drug for axSpA management protocols.”

They emphasized, however, that more high-quality clinical trials, with larger sample sizes and prolonged follow-up periods, should be conducted to further investigate the therapy’s efficacy and safety.